IMAGINE spending your holiday on a resort where all your needs are taken care of. A holiday where you are free to pick and choose your daily activities, and a resort where you can wake up in a new location almost everyday.
Recently, Star Cruises, one of the three brands under the Genting Cruise Lines, invited business partners and members of the media for a four day-three night trip on the SuperStar Gemini.
The event marked the Gemini’s maiden voyage since it called the Port Klang Cruise Centre its home port. The ship is set to travel to Phuket and land at Patong beach on the second day, go into port in Penang on the third day, and return to Klang on the fourth day.
Seeing the Super Star Gemini docked at the Port Klang Cruise Centre harbour was an impressive sight. The ship itself is 230m long, 29m full, and can fit approximately 1,526 passengers.
Guests checking in at the Port Klang Cruise Centre can have their bags delivered straight to their cabin. As a guest, I was given an access card that functions as an identity card and a room key card on the ship.
I also had my passport checked by immigration, and had to hand it over to the ship upon entry. As a precaution, I was advised to keep a photocopy of the first page of my passport. This is to make disembarking in Thailand a speedier and more comfortable experience.
Super Star Gemini offers four basic types of cabins: suites, balcony cabins, ocean-view cabins, and inside cabins. Some of these cabins are specifically designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
Each class and category of the cabin offers different-sized rooms and facilities. For example, an ocean-view cabin has a sealed window, while an inside cabin is windowless.
Genting Cruises generously offered me a Superior Oceanview Stateroom, which can accommodate up to three people. It is equipped with two single joined beds, and a single sofa bed.
The first official ‘activity’ aboard the Super Star Gemini was the emergency drill. Passengers must grab their life vests from their rooms and head over to designated stations written on their access cards. This drill is mandatory for everyone on board.
Every day, guests will receive a copy of Star Navigator, which was to me, the most important piece of paper on the ship.
It bulletins the most important happenings of the day, details the full schedule of activities available, and lays out important notices you need to know.
These include when and where to get your four meals a day ( breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper) on board the Super Star, and the times to catch the sunrise and sunset on the open seas.
However, what I was most impressed by was the friendliness and professionalism shown by every member of the international crew aboard the ship. They are always helpful, always friendly, and are as patient as saints when handling guests.
On the second day of the cruise, the Super Star Gemini anchored itself 20 minutes off the shores of Phuket’s famous Patong beach.
Guests could go ashore and explore the Island, or book an excursion tour on board the ship at the reception. These will incur extra charges. However, passengers must return to the ship within a set time, or be penalised.
I got to visit the Sribhurapa Orchid cashew factory, Wat Chalong, and the 45m tall marble Buddha.
At the factory, we learned that cashew nuts are never sold raw or with shells still intact, because the shell contains urushiol, the same poison found in poison oak or ivy.
Wat Chalong is one of the 29 Buddhist temples in Phuket. It is a picturesque location and is home to several beautiful temple buildings and notable status.
It is said that the Grand Pagoda at the temple contains a splinter of the Lord Buddha’s bone, and is officially named Phramahathatchedi-Jomthaibarameepragat.
We then headed up the Nakkerd Hills to see the famous Phuket Big Buddha. Measuring 45m tall, the marble statue is known as Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha and was built in 2004.
We arrived as the sun was about to set, so the view was spectacular.
On the third day of the cruise, the Super Star Gemini docked itself at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal in Penang. From there the Malaysian Tourism took us to The Top.
Located at the iconic Komtar (Komplex Tengku Abdul Rahman), The Top turned the once grand landmark of Penang into a tourist attraction.
We were first taken to the air-conditioned 65th-floor observation deck, to get us acquainted with the height of the tower. We were then ushered to the 68th floor where the glass rainbow bridge is located.
The view was spectacular. I could see the whole island from the top of the tower, not an experience for the faint of hear.
As a treat, we were taken to the Tower Club Penang. This exclusive facility is located on level 66 and 67 of the Komtar Tower, offering amenities, from dining to leisure to fitness and business.
After that, I opted to experience the Jurassic Research Centre, where I got to take pictures and hide from animatronic dinosaurs. I also learned that the first Dinosaur fossil in Malaysia was of a Spinosaurid sauropod found in Pahang, in 2014.
From there I had to make my way back to the port and board the ship again, before preparing to sail back to Klang the next day.